Radio tuning. It finds a station, where all that can be heard is the sound of a boat on a lake. Then there is a mechanical whir, a plop, and a grunt.
BILLY-JOE: Good cast, mmhmm.
More ambient lake sounds.
ANNOUNCER: And that’s all we have for this episode of “Fishing with Billy-Joe on the Radio”. Tune in next week, when Billy-Joe almost catches a pike and then has to contend with the horrors of running out of chewing tobacco! Now, let us wind down from Billy-Joe’s exciting saga with the latest episode of Captain Solecistic: The Illiterate Avenger!
A trumpet fanfare.
ANNOUNCER: When last we saw our hero he had temporarily allied himself with his greatest nemesis, The Librarian, to discover the best route to get to The Jack of Trades, who is holding the town’s single whiskey distillery for ransom. Luckily for the Captain, the distillery and the library are actually in the same building; something he would have known if his super powers hadn’t stripped him of his ability to read any sort of written symbol representing language!
CAPTAIN: Or maps!
ANNOUNCER: Yes, he surely is stupid, and yet his heart is pure and his might is just! But will he get to The Jack of Trades before the distillery-library goes kablooey? Will he be able to stop the bomb before it sends the town’s whiskey and book supply sky high? Will the Illiterate Avenger be able to save the day in time? We certainly hope so as the producers have had enough of superheroes with powers that make no earthly sense and are about to cancel the show – (breaking character) – wait, what?
PRODUCER: Just keep reading.
The music changes to an ominous rumble.
ANNOUNCER: (back in character) We arrive on the scene inside the distillery, where The Jack of All Trades is talking to negotiators.
NEGOTIATOR: Be more reasonable here, Jack. We’ll bring you $500 in silver dollars right now, but we need more time. Whaddya say, huh? $500, and you send out just the cheap stuff. You know, as a show of good faith.
JACK: You can’t buy me off with 500 dollar coins, copper. It all stays until I have my money.
NEGOTIATOR: But there aren’t that many silver dollars in the entire city!
JACK: Then you best start asking the neighbors for sugar ‘cause I want my money! And none of this new age gold coins with Sacagewasit on the front! I want the good old JFK silver dollars.
NEGOTIATOR: JFK wasn’t on the silver dollar, Eisenhower was. Do you mean half dollar coins?
JACK: Whatever, I just want to ones with JFK on them.
NEGOTIATOR: Those haven’t been struck in more than a decade! You want us to scrounge up ten million dollars in outdated fifty cent coins?
JACK: And do it in one hour or else this booze factory is gonna see the hot end of a match. I have it rigged so that if anything happens to me, the countdown begins and you won’t get in here in time to stop it. AND MAKE SURE THOSE COINS ARE SHINY!!!
Jack hangs up.
JACK: Hmmmm, I thought JFK was on the dollar.
CAPTAIN: MAYBE YOU SHOULD DO A BIT MORE READING!
The sound of objects flying through the air and smacking Jack in the face.
JACK: Ow! Who just threw a book at me?!
CAPTAIN: It is I, Captain Solecistic! And I have come to foil your plans to rid our fair city of wonderful liquor.
JACK: Never, you illiterate nuisance. Don’t come any closer or I’ll blow up this whole place.
CAPTAIN: Give up Jack of All Trades for you have no hope of winning.
JACK: I fail to see how throwing books at me is going to stop me from blowing this place up.
Another book flies through the air and hits Jack.
JACK: Ow! Stop that!
A gun fires. Footsteps.
CAPTAIN: (laughing) Bullets can’t hurt me.
The gun fires again and there’s a sound of glass breaking. The footsteps stop.
CAPTAIN: Jack, you fiend!
JACK: Every step you take towards me, I’ll shoot another bottle.
Pause. Then there is one footstep, followed by one gunshot and one bottle breaking. Pause. Three steps, three shots, three breaking bottles. Pause. Captain then starts to run back and forth to test Jack, and Jack shoots one bottle for each of his many footsteps. Phone rings, and Jack picks it up.
NEGOTIATOR: We heard shots and breaking bottles Jack! What’s going on in there?!
JACK: I told you people to stay back or there would be consequences.
NEGOTIATOR: None of my people have moved. We’re not willing to risk any whiskey; it’s not like they’re people.
JACK: Then what is this caped moron doing here?
NEGOTIATOR: Caped? Oh lord. Is it Captain Solecistic?
NEGOTIATOR: Can we talk to him?
JACK: It’s for you?
Captain walks over to the phone.
CAPTAIN: Hi this is – (to Jack) – I took four steps by the way.
Jack shoots four bottles.
CAPTAIN: This is the Illiterate Avenger.
NEGOTIATOR: Cap, could you just sit this one out? You know the commish doesn’t like you interfering with police business.
CAPTAIN: Don’t worry about me, good sir. I can’t stand by and watch my city’s sanity being pushed to the brink by some madman.
NEGOTIATOR: We just don’t want to lose any more of the hostages than we have to.
NEGOTIATOR: The whiskey!
CAPTAIN: Well, by my count, he’s only shot 16 bottles –
Gunshot. Bottle breaking.
CAPTAIN: 17 bottles.
NEGOTIATOR: That’s what we’re talking about, Captain! We know you’re just trying to help, but we need to placate this guy until we can take him out safely.
Pause. Captain punches Jack, and he falls down.
CAPTAIN: Taken care of. I just knocked him out.
NEGOTIATOR: What? NO!
A beeping/ticking starts counting down.
CAPTAIN: Oh look, the bombs started doing something.
NEGOTIATOR: Is it counting down?
CAPTAIN: (hesitating) I . . . I don’t know. But given the context of the situation, I would say yes.
NEGOTIATOR: How much time do we have?
CAPTAIN: I don’t really know.
NEGOTIATOR: You mean you can’t read numbers either?
CAPTAIN: Or maps. I can tell you that it looks like a stick, a couple of dots, a broken pitchfork and what I assume is a deformed shrimp.
NEGOTIATOR: Oh my god. Get out of their Captain, it’s about to blow! Just grab as many bottles as you can on the way out! We can sell them to the highest bidder and live like kings!
CAPTAIN: Don’t worry, sir. I have an idea.
The sound of captain struggling and then heavy footsteps.
ANNOUNCER: As the countdown counts down, Captain Solecistic lifts the bomb and carries it away from the town’s liquor supply. Not being able to take it outside lest he injures the good, hardworking police force, the Illiterate Avenger has only one other choice.
Bomb explodes. Dust and debris fall to the ground. And then clapping and cheering. Captain Solecistic has changed back into Parker Gently and is dictating to Robbie.
PARKER: With quick thinking, Captain Solecistic lifted the bomb single-handedly and rescued all the whiskey in town. What was once Ruby City’s Drink n’ Read Book Depository & Distillery is now just Drink n’ Drink Distillery, as the mighty Captain ensured that all the damage was done to the town’s library, who no one ever used anyway. No one was harmed, saved for an evil Librarian, and may he burn in the depths of the abyss with demonic fire peeling the wicked flesh from his bloody bones –
ROBBIE: What did you say Mr. Gently?
PARKER: Nothing, other than that Captain Solecistic has once again saved the day! You get all that Robbie?
ROBBIE: Yes sir.
PARKER: Now let’s go get a drink.
ROBBIE: But I’m underage. See my ID?
PARKER: Uhhhhhhh – (throws card to the ground, slaps Robbie) – don’t contradict your elders, young man. Now off to the local tavern!
ANNOUNCER: And that is the conclusion of this chapter of the Captain Solecistic! We’d like to remind all you young’uns out there that we do not condone giving minors any of the cool, refreshing, fun, will totally make you cool with all the kids in the neighborhood, pleasures of whiskey! Tune in next week –
ANNOUNCER: – maybe tune in next week for another exciting tale of Captain Solecistic: The Illiterate Avenger!